Creating Value

Proving worth, while demonstrating value within a managed care environment, is just one of the challenges facing health care professionals these days. Although this is no easy task, it is imperative for those in the health care field to make an effort to be seen in the best light possible, not only by the payor community but by their peers as well.

Now there is a report-Respiratory Care Practitioners in an Evolving Health Care Environment-to help respiratory care practitioners (RCPs) do just that. Sponsored by the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) and conducted by The Lewin Group Inc, a health care consulting and research firm, the report should be a valuable resource for RCPs, particularly respiratory care directors, department heads, managers, and supervisors. The February 1998 issue of the AARC Report newsletter included the following key points:
ú Those RCPs who can demonstrate skills and the ability to take on responsibilities in multiple areas are likely to succeed in the new health care environment.
ú Marketplace demand for RCPs is shifting from the inpatient to both subacute and outpatient settings. RCPs can identify and take advantage of opportunities in these settings.
ú RCPs must ensure that respiratory care programs teach future RCPs the skills needed in the new health care environment.
Other survey findings include:
ú More than 98%f AARC members’ employers use guidelines or protocols to deliver respiratory care services.
ú 77% of AARC members have become responsible for managed care approaches to controlling costs.
ú More than 90% of the respondent organizations indicated that RCPs are involved in disease management programs.
ú Nursing homes and home health care organizations are more likely than hospitals to use RCPs as case managers.

To obtain a copy of the report, call AARC at (972) 243-2272 or visit their Web site:

On another front, Ann Yearsley, with the National Home Oxygen Patient Association (NHOPA), a consumer organization that represents oxygen patients, recently sent a letter to every US Senator offering her ideas on how best to spend monies from the anticipated tobacco industry settlement. While RT magazine does not unconditionally support her views, we thought our readers would find her ideas interesting. Ann wrote:

I am a member of the National Home Oxygen Patient Association and would like to make a suggestion on how the tobacco settlement money should be handled. Would it be possible to create a fund such as Medicare to which all tobacco monies are deposited so that health providers could bill directly for smoking-related treatment? Medicare and Medicaid (and insurance companies?), could request reimbursement for past costs too. This fund would help lower taxes and insurance premiums by paying all smoking-related medical costs.

Research facilities such as the National Emphysema Foundation could apply for grants for research. The American Lung Association could request funding for antismoking campaigns. Imagine how much less complicated things could be if there were just one fund to cover all the smoking-related problems. If such a fund is not set up, it is possible that the states may choose to spend the money on nonsmoking-related programs and the smoking expenses will not be taken care of.

It would be in the best interest of all Americans to use the money for smoking-related illnesses (past and present), research, and education only. It is unfair that taxpayers should continue to pay for medical care for smokers. The tobacco companies should be held responsible for all medical costs incurred every year as long as they continue to sell tobacco. Is $365 billion over 25 years going to cover those costs?

NHOPA also represents many oxygen users who have never smoked. We are facing huge cuts in Medicare funding for portable oxygen that may have been caused by the drain on funds from the large numbers of smokers using oxygen. The tobacco money could help [supplement] these cuts so that Medicare and Medicaid could afford to pay for oxygen used by those that have nonsmoking-related diseases.

I heard on the news that the government is trying to convince the American people that the tobacco settlement is good for our nation. Perhaps they would believe it and support it if they saw an easy-to-understand plan such as the one I suggest. The arguing between our leaders about how to spend the money is confusing the issue and threatening the chance that it will ever happen.

To learn more about NHOPA, visit its Web site at